The Iron Triangle from an Agile Perspective

May 16, 2024 | Uncategorized

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Have you ever been told that agile methods can’t meet deadlines or stay within budget? It’s a common myth that leaves many skeptical about the true power of agility. But what if I told you that agile methods are not only capable of meeting these constraints but often excel at it? Intrigued?

Let’s dive into some key insights and discover how agile methods can transform your projects into success stories.

The Iron Triangle Explained

You’ve probably heard of the Iron Triangle: scope, time, and cost. In every project, these three dimensions are interconnected, and any change to one impacts the others.

Traditional projects often try to fix all three aspects from the start, which can lead to rigid plans and failed outcomes. This is where agile methods shine, offering a more flexible approach that adapts to change and focuses on delivering value.

The Problem with Fixing All Three Dimensions

A harsh truth about traditional project management is that fixing scope, time, and cost from the outset rarely works. A McKinsey study from 2012 found that 45% of large IT projects run over budget, 7% over time, and deliver 56% less value than predicted. When all three aspects are forcefully fixed and controlled, quality often suffers.

Agile methods, however, embrace change and prioritize high-value work, ensuring better outcomes.

The Agile Perspective: Embracing Flexibility and Adaptability

In agility we flip the traditional approach on its head. Instead of trying to predict the future with absolute certainty, agile methods prepare for unpredictability. We can accept time and budget as fixed, but make the scope adaptable. By focusing on delivering the highest value features first and continuously adapting, agile teams can meet deadlines and stay within budget without compromising quality.

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Practical Application in Agility

Suppose you have a fixed deadline, like a product launch at a trade fair. Agile methods provide a structured yet flexible approach to ensure you deliver something valuable:

  1. Set and Communicate the Product Goal: Define a clear product goal that guides all decisions and helps the team stay aligned.
  2. Ensure the Goal is Well-Known: Make sure everyone on the team understands the product goal, ensuring transparency and focus.
  3. Prioritize Features by Business Value: Focus on delivering the most valuable features first to maximize impact.
  4. Measure Progress in Value Produced: Demonstrate a working product regularly to validate progress and gather feedback.
  5. Adapt Scope Prediction Continuously: Regularly adjust plans based on actual progress to stay flexible and responsive.
  6. Guarantee Delivery of Valuable Product: Deliver working products regularly to meet deadlines with high-quality results.

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The myth that agile methods can’t keep deadlines or budgets is just that—a myth. By keeping one aspect of the Iron Triangle flexible, agile teams can deliver high-quality products on time and within budget. Agile methods are about embracing change and using it to our advantage.

🤔 What’s your experience with time and budget constraints? Hit reply and let me know!


Thank you for reading The Agile Compass. I’m Matthias, here to help you help those around you become agile.

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